Dave Davis is insistent that there are too many reasons for Liverpool to be upbeat despite losing to Manchester United last week.
After the dust had settled on Saturday’s disappointing defeat to United, Wednesday night’s Champions League results re-ignited old questions. Saturday AM’s thoughts were quite distinct. We’re better than them. They’ll park the bus and look to hit us on the break. They won’t cope with our front three.
Wednesday PM thoughts left us wondering how those proclamations hadn’t come true. While the result wasn’t what Reds everywhere were looking for, a glance at the table afterwards will tell quite a lot. Progress has been made, but there’s plenty left to do.
The finish to the 2016/17 campaign was a reminder of how badly Liverpool wanted to be back at Europe’s top table. Fourth place meant more than it did to most and with no European football, there weren’t many excuses.
Pundits alike rightly identified that Liverpool had arguably the sixth best squad in the league, but their team could match anyone on their day. Those results against the big teams proved crucial and a new chapter was waiting to be written by Klopp’s men. However, it’s easily ignored that at this stage in 16/17 Liverpool had 55 points on the board. 5 less than the current campaign.
There’s many a twist and turn to be written this season and success or failure can’t be defined until the Brighton match finishes and the road leads to Kiev – or wherever it may finish. The likes of Salah, Van Dijk and Robertson have made a huge impact on a first XI that required strengthening and players such as Firmino have taken their game to another level.
The front three have terrorised many opposition defences, but that doesn’t mean it’s all roses at Melwood.
A first XI doesn’t win you any trophies nowadays, it’s a squad game in modern football. Everyone who wears the Liverbird on their chest deserves support, as long as they give maximum effort but that’s not always enough. It’s not about brow beating other players, but how many of Liverpool’s bench would make a real impact at other clubs in the top six? Big players sit on big clubs’ benches at times and until a problem that remains from last season is corrected, silverware maybe out of reach.
Liverpool’s plan A doesn’t appear to have always have a playbook of alternatives behind it and there was an argument that Klopp was tactically outfought by Mourinho yesterday. United didn’t park any bus, yet conceding possession to a team in the right way doesn’t mean they’ll hurt you. Klopp didn’t appear to have another option and for all the understandable talk over penalty shouts, at no point was De Gea significantly troubled.
The last eight of the Champions League and four points ahead of our nearest Champions League chasers evidences progress in anyone’s eyes. It’s not a trophy that many understandably crave and it’s not a tilt at the main prize. Who knows what this season may still bring, but with Naby Keita’s pending arrival and further funds ready to spend in the summer it’s right to be positive.
The United result shouldn’t be dwelt on too long. There’s plenty more to think about long-term at Anfield.